In quieter moments when palaeontologists receive the chance to reflect on the present hot-spots for dinosaur discoveries thoughts may turn to the exciting fossil finds coming out of Angola, or the job being undertaken to analyze into the bizarre Dinosauria fauna that when roamed the prehistoric island of Hateg in southern Europe. Other scientists may comment on the amazing Early Cretaceous dinosaur discoveries that are being made around the town of Winton in Queensland (Australia), however, it is very important that the fossil discoveries being made in India are not overlooked.
The Geology of India
India is just a huge country with extensive Mesozoic-aged formations that are just beginning to reveal proof of the amazing creatures that roamed the thing that was to become the Asian sub-continent. The history of dinosaur discovery in India actually goes back a extended way. what dinosaur has 500 teeth The very first recorded dinosaur find was created in that country several hundred and eighty years back, even before the word Dinosauria was coined and the Dinosauria established as a sub-Order of the Reptilia. After 100 and thirty four years the very first dinosaur fossil described from India has been re-discovered, ironically amongst the collection of the Geological Survey of India at their Kolkata head-office.
Early Palaeontology on the Sub-Continent
In the times of the British Empire, when India was regarded since the “jewel in the crown”, the country had been mapped and explored by her colonial masters. In 1828, Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman of the Bengal Army (later knighted and becoming a Major-General, after having a long and distinguished career in India), led a small expedition to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh (central India). This military expedition having its accompanying geologists and cartographers mapped the strata in the area. This strata has become referred to as the Lameta Formation and it contains Upper Cretaceous aged rocks (Maastrichtian faunal stage). The Lameta Formation is famous for its Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils, most of them unique to the region. The fossils found include long-necked dinosaurs (Titanosauria) as well as many Theropods including large Abelisaurids that rivalled the Tyrannosaurs in terms of size. It had been this military expedition that found the very first proof of dinosaurs in India. W. H. Sleeman is credited with finding a twenty centimetre long, isolated bone from the thing that was later to be termed a dinosaur.
Discovery of Titanosaurs
The discovery, made in 1828 was only four years following the Reverend William Buckland had described the very first dinosaur (Megalosaurus bucklandii) and several years ahead of the eminent English anatomist Sir Richard Own established the Dinosauria as the word used to explain these “terrible, fearfully great lizards” ;.Sir Richard Owen established the word Dinosauria – the dinosaurs in April 1842, although he later alluded to the truth that he’d come up with the word earlier (August 1841).
The Indian specimen was really an individual, caudal vertebra (part of the tail), of a large, herbivorous dinosaur. It had been passed amongst several distinguished Victorian scientists until 1877 when no record of where it was might be found. This dinosaur fossil, which had lain undiscovered for millions of years was lost to science from 1877 until April 2012 when it was discovered by members of the Geological Survey of India who have been re-assessing the fossil heritage of the sub-continent. It had been the opportunity discovery, the specimen having resided in the collection of the Geological Society of India at their Kolkata head-office.
India’s first dinosaur fossil to be described was discovered by Dr. D. M. Mohabey and Dr. Subhasis Sen of the Geological Survey team. The dinner-plate sized specimen was amongst a collection of fossils that were studied by the English naturalist and geologist Richard Lydekker, who’d joined the organisation which was to become the Geological Survey of India back in 1874. It had been Lydekker who formally named and described the specimen in 1877, establishing a fresh genus of dinosaur – Titanosaurus indicus. Â The newly, re-discovered tail bone is just a holotype, a specimen upon which the first description of an organism is based. The specimen really has the first labels – 2193 and 2194 on it which are clearly visible, the classification given to the fossil by Lydekker. The fossil was located amongst the vertebrate fossils in the catalogued collection produced by Lydekker and stored on the very first floor at the headquarters of the Geological Survey of India.
Negotiating with Museums
The Indian team are looking for more fossils which were presumed lost and to simply help to resolve a puzzle which involves the Natural History Museum in London. Numerous British expeditions explored the fossil beds of the Lameta Formation in the first part of the 20th Century. Many specimens were subsequently taken from India to the then British Museum (now the Natural History Museum), in London. As part of an ongoing international research programme to map India’s vertebrate fossils, scientists are hoping to be able to identify Indian dinosaurs amongst the collection at the Natural History Museum.
The Geological Survey of India team are optimistic that any dinosaur specimens that they are able to trace to the Natural History Museum collection is likely to be returned to India for further study and to be united with other Indian dinosaur specimens. Just like the fossil found by Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman, 100 and eight four years back, several fossils are holotypes and the sole known fossil evidence for several dinosaur species that be seemingly unique to the sub-continent.
The caudal vertebra, now back in the catalogued collection of the Indian survey team represents the very first Titanosaur fossil to be scientifically studied and as such it’s regarded as a vital specimen for the global research into the evolutionary history of the Sauropod dinosaurs.
Perhaps more to the point, since the Indian economy strengthens and the country emerges as a global super-power there is a powerful demand for improved educational resources and an emphasis on India’s place and role in the scientific community. It is likely that Indian museums will step-up their efforts to possess important artifacts such as for instance dinosaur fossils returned with their country as fascination with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals grows.
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